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Summary: When suffering for righteousness sake, Christ promises to be with us “In the Midst of Suffering”.

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Charles Spurgeon once said that true love is measured by the degree to which the one loving is willing to subject (themselves) to crosses and losses, to suffering and self-denials. With love comes responsibility, and that responsibility is grounded in truth. What disturbs and disillusions those on the outside of Christianity is the imbalance of truth and love they often see among those who profess faith in Christ. Every believer must be committed to sacrificial love grounded in truth (Matt. 16:24–25). If we’re consistent in these things, God is pleased, and the gospel is advanced (Eph. 4:11–16). And if we suffer, it will be for the right reasons. (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/neglect-great-commandment-hinder-great-commission/)

The church at Smyrna displayed the power and purity that comes from successfully enduring persecution. Persecution had purified and purged it from sin and affirmed the reality of its members’ faith. Though they suffered physical hardship and poverty, the Christians at Smyrna clung to their immeasurable spiritual riches. Fittingly, the church at Smyrna is one of the two churches (along with Philadelphia) that received no rebuke in its letter from the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Scripture makes clear, persecution and trials are an inevitable and essential part of the Christian life (Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12). The example of the church at Smyrna instructs all believers on how to properly respond when they come. Hypocrites do not stay to face persecution, because false believers do not want to endure the pain. Trials and persecution strengthen and refine genuine saving faith, but uncover and destroy false faith.

When suffering for righteousness sake, Christ promises to be with us “In the Midst of Suffering”. We can see this promise through His ministry to the Church at Smyrna as seen through: 1) The Church, City and Correspondent (Revelation 2:8), 2) The Commendation (Revelation 2:9), 3) The Command (Revelation 2:10a), and 4) The Counsel (Revelation 2:10b-11).

1) The Church, City and Correspondent (Revelation 2:8)

Revelation 2:8 8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. (ESV)

Scripture does not record the founding of the church at Smyrna, nor is the city mentioned in the book of Acts. All that is revealed about this congregation is contained in this letter. Presumably, a church was planted in Smyrna during Paul’s Ephesian ministry (Acts 19:10), either by Paul himself, or by his converts. Smyrna lays about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus on the east shore of the Aegean Sea. From Ignatius’s letter to Smyrna (early second century a.d.) we learn that the church was already well organized, with a bishop (Polycarp), elders, and deacons. Today, known in Turkey as Izmir, it the only one of the seven cities still in existence in which the letters of Revelation were written to. (Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (p. 73). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

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